Chemical spill prompts unsubstantiated claims about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines

Reports that Pfizer exceeded methylene chloride discharge limits into a Michigan drain prompted city officials to issue a no-contact advisory for the Kalamazoo River. In response to these reports, some social media users shared unsubstantiated claims that the chemical spill is related to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines. These users are referring to the Kalamazoo River as “mRNA water.”

Recommendation: Questions likely remain for the public in Michigan about the impact of discharge into the Kalamazoo River, and public health officials should be prepared with up to date information. Nationally, these types of claims disparage mRNA vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines more generally, and provide an opportunity for public health officials to reiterate the safety of mRNA technology. Talking points may emphasize that all COVID-19 vaccines and their ingredients have been rigorously studied in millions of people worldwide and have been determined to be safe. The chemical in the Kalamazoo River is not an ingredient in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines.